Business

Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Vanity Documentary: How Smart Were We?

San Diego’s Vanity Documentary: How Smart Were We?

by Doug Porter 04.27.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

You’d have to be a real hermit to miss the stories coming from multiple media outlets recently about San Diego’s inclusion in “National Geographic’s Smart Cities” series. The breathless coverage bragged about millions of viewers, more millions on Facebook and what a great deal it was for the city.

A bunch of local institutions, including local governments, ponied up chunks of money to get our fair city a higher profile. I’m looking at the deal today and thinking we got played for suckers.

Maybe we were oversold on just how good that deal was. Maybe nobody said what we were really buying was “Paid Programming” on a Fox cable channel. Jeez, I wonder if we’ll be scheduled next to a documentary on Juicing Machines for the Millennium?

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Thumbnail image for How Communities Can Benefit from Private Development in California

How Communities Can Benefit from Private Development in California

by Source 04.27.2015 Business

By Murtaza H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., AICP / San Diego UrbDeZine.

There is a building boom across California, but many communities have been historically left behind. Property tax increment has served as a planning and investment tool to provide public benefits such as affordable housing, good jobs and neighborhood amenities.

However, with the end of redevelopment, cash-poor cities across California are exploring innovative strategies to fund public benefits. One such strategy is to partner with developers for community benefits in exchange for planning and development rights.

The poster-child for the interaction between people and projects is South San Francisco, with the region having the most expensive rents in the nation, where a household needs to make $37 an hour wage to be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment.

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Thumbnail image for The Anti-Surveillance State: Clothes and Gadgets Block Face Recognition Technology, Confuse Drones and Make You (Digitally) Invisible

The Anti-Surveillance State: Clothes and Gadgets Block Face Recognition Technology, Confuse Drones and Make You (Digitally) Invisible

by Source 04.27.2015 Business

An entire industry is dedicated to getting your privacy back

By Janet Burns / AlterNet

Last spring, designer Adam Harvey hosted a session on hair and makeup techniques for attendees of the 2015 FutureEverything Festival in Manchester, England. Rather than sharing innovative ways to bring out the audience’s eyes, Harvey’s CV Dazzle Anon introduced a series of styling methods designed with almost the exact opposite aim of traditional beauty tricks: to turn your face into an anti-face—one that cameras, particularly those of the surveillance variety, will not only fail to love, but fail to recognize.

Harvey is one of a growing number of privacy-focused designers and developers “exploring new opportunities that are the result of [heightened] surveillance,” and working to establish lines of defense against it. He’s spent the past several years experimenting with strategies for putting control over people’s privacy back in their own hands, in their pockets and on their faces.

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Thumbnail image for Activists to Rep. Scott Peters: Do the Right Thing on Fast Track, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Activists to Rep. Scott Peters: Do the Right Thing on Fast Track, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

by Doug Porter 04.24.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

People representing organized labor, environmental and faith groups staged a rally outside the offices of Rep. Scott Peters yesterday, urging him to oppose legislation limiting congressional oversight on trade agreements currently being negotiated.

The demonstration at Peters office is symbolic of a larger political battle being waged over the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP). Business groups and most Republican legislators are supporting the Obama administration, contending an agreement is necessary as an important counterweight to China’s growing clout in the region.

In Washington on Thursday the so-called Fast Track legislation cleared an important hurtle as House Ways and Means Committee voted 25-13 in favor. A companion “fast-track” bill cleared a Senate panel on Wednesday and both are now ready for action in their respective chambers.

Today I’ll do my best–this is complicated–to give you an overview of what’s going on.

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Thumbnail image for Reader-izing San Diego’s CityBeat Weekly

Reader-izing San Diego’s CityBeat Weekly

by Doug Porter 04.22.2015 Business

While I’m guessing some coverage of interest to progressives will continue to appear, the heart and soul of the organization appear to be headed in another direction.

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By Doug Porter

There’s trouble afoot at San Diego CityBeat, the alt-weekly known for its focus on local progressive politics, arts, and music.

Editor Dave Rolland and associate editor Kelly Davis both cited plausible professional reasons as they exited the publication in March, with Rolland promising readers “our departure does not foretell CityBeat’s demise.”

Incoming editor Ron Donoho started off vowing to “continue this alt-weekly tradition,” and pledging to “stink up the place if our local leaders foul things up.” Unfortunately these promises were woven into a bizarre scatological analogy, ending with “if we see brown, we’ll flush it down.”

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Thumbnail image for How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

by Source 04.22.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

These days it’s not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she’s not needed right then.

Although she’s already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won’t be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.

Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of information such as traffic patterns, weather, and sales merely hours or possibly minutes before.

This way, employers don’t need to pay anyone to be at work unless they’re really needed. Companies can avoid paying wages to workers who’d otherwise just sit around.

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Thumbnail image for Manufacturing Consent for a New Stadium in San Diego

Manufacturing Consent for a New Stadium in San Diego

by Doug Porter 04.21.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

Two months ago prospects for building a new football stadium were waning. The thinking was that San Diego had done too little, too late to accommodate the demands of the Chargers for a new facility. The football team, it seemed, was ready to head north for a more obliging locale.

Now, thanks to a blizzard of press releases and the timely release of a think tank study, the tide may be turning. Today we’ll take a look at those developments and the role they may play in shaping public opinion.

Back on February 2nd a certain columnist (me) noted  “The only thing more likely to be declared dead on arrival than any plan coming out of the newly ensconced Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group for San Diego is the budget proposal the President is sending to the Republican-controlled congress.”

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Mission Valley Watch

by Frank Gormlie 04.21.2015 Activism

Editor: This is the launch of what we hope is a regular report in the San Diego Free Press, via our online media partner, the OB Rag.

Somebody needs to be watching Mission Valley – the long congested corridor that is literally the heart of San Diego. And certainly, it’s not the City of San Diego that is watching Mission Valley – or rather watching out for it. And certainly, it’s not the major mainstream media in this town either that are watching Mission Valley – with one HUGE exception: the nearly-exclusive and obsessive focus on the Qualcomm Stadium site.

Yet Mission Valley certainly does need to be watched because the construction projects that are being built and are in the pipeline to being built in the next few years will quite double – or even triple – the current population of the Valley of 20,000 San Diegans. The projects will double the number of housing units that are already there.

The problem with this is that there isn’t even the public infrastructure now that is required to serve the thousands of current Mission Valley residents, much less the needs of (and this is a conservative estimate) a future populace that has undergone growth of one hundred percent. The projects planned and even approved will further destroy what remains of the once, lush green valley that in earlier days, held the promise of becoming the Central Park or the Golden Gate Park of San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Green Capitalism: A Contradiction in Terms?

Green Capitalism: A Contradiction in Terms?

by John Lawrence 04.21.2015 Activism

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 6

By John Lawrence – This is the sixth and final part of this series. Part 5 can be found here.

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, debunks the idea that all we have to do is to cooperate with the extractive industries and urge them to get greener. We do not have to go to extremes, but can phase in renewable sources of energy gradually. The gradualist approach is the essence of green capitalism. This will not work Klein says:

[The] bottom line is … our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.

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Thumbnail image for Governor Brown and His Water Hogging Buddies

Governor Brown and His Water Hogging Buddies

by Junco Canché 04.21.2015 Business
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Thumbnail image for California Chamber of Commerce Wants to Kick Widows to the Curb

California Chamber of Commerce Wants to Kick Widows to the Curb

by Doug Porter 04.20.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

It’s the time of year again when the the Golden State’s Chamber of Commerce issues it’s hit list of “job killer” bills being considered in Sacramento. This year there are 17 or so items on the preliminary list; more are expected to be added as the session goes on.

Included in the “Increased Unnecessary Litigation Costs” section is AB244, introduced by  Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D- Stockton). The measure would clarify protections in the California Housing Bill of Rights, specifying that widows and other surviving family members are covered in their dealings with mortgage servicers.

Presently these homeowners can find themselves caught in a “Catch 22” if they seek a loan modification. Servicers inform them that they can’t be considered for a modification until they assume the mortgage. But, they won’t let them assume the mortgage unless they demonstrate that they can afford it. As a result, mortgage payments are missed, fees rack up, and foreclosure can be the unnecessary outcome.

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Thumbnail image for Taxes and Inequality in California: Who Pays a Bigger Share?

Taxes and Inequality in California: Who Pays a Bigger Share?

by Jim Miller 04.20.2015 Columns

By Jim Miller

Last week was Tax Day and with it came the annual ritual of bemoaning our ever-rising taxes and complaining about the endless growth of big government.

Indeed just a few days after Tax Day, I gave a talk at a local college on the history of income inequality and workers’ struggles in which I made a comparison between the stark odds workers face today in the Fight for $15 with the similarly steep hill they faced 100 years ago before the rise of the American Labor Movement and the reforms that came with the New Deal.

As is usually the case, however, a few folks in the audience just could not get their heads around the idea that it was not all government’s fault.

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Thumbnail image for Readers Write:  The Fuzzy Picture around the Chargers Stadium and Mission Valley

Readers Write: The Fuzzy Picture around the Chargers Stadium and Mission Valley

by At Large 04.20.2015 Business

By Joe Flynn

Editor Note: Mr. Flynn’s article is a response to Taking a Wide Lens on Mission Valley by Mary Lydon, published in Voice of San Diego.

A wide angle lens may not be the appropriate analogy for this discussion. It seems a telephoto lens for a close up was used here focusing on providing a stadium for the Chargers. The rest of the picture is fuzzy. What is troubling about these discussions is that they begin and end with the assumption that the city owned land in Mission Valley, now improved with Qualcomm Stadium is “dedicated for sports facility use.”

Perhaps parkland can be dedicated and forever reserved for public park uses, but other city owned land can and should be viewed as a public asset to be used for the most critical public needs.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Family Jewels Losing Their Luster

San Diego’s Family Jewels Losing Their Luster

by Doug Porter 04.17.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

It’s been a bad week for cherished institutions in America’s Finest City. Our blessed football team, our world famous zoo, our info-tainment water park, and the mayor’s Hope Diamond of re-development all find themselves in trouble of one sort or another.

You might even say business as usual is getting unusual for San Diego. While a few instances of bad news do not constitute an omen of fundamental change, there’s reasons to believe we have not seen the end of these wannabe sordid sagas.

Then there are the shenanigans taking place in the electoral arena. Jacquie Atkinson is challenging Rep. Scott Peters. Supervisor Dave Roberts is in some kind of trouble. And those pesky House Republicans are after funding studying climate change, Again.

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Thumbnail image for Super Sized #Fightfor15 Protests, Value Meal Press Coverage

Super Sized #Fightfor15 Protests, Value Meal Press Coverage

by Doug Porter 04.16.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter 

I spent most of yesterday traveling around San Diego with roughly three dozen fast food workers. The local version of the nationwide Fight for 15 movement made a statement at ten locations around town, taking to the streets both in North Park and downtown. 

The mostly brown and black workers on the bus were those who’d committed to taking a day off from work (there were others that came and went) to let the world know they wanted a better life. Two were older, having spent more than two decades in the business. Some had families to support. Some brought their kids along. Others were trying to go to community college on a fast food paycheck. All of them believed they could make a difference, even if they were just paying it forward. 

Many of these strikers shared their personal stories with TV and radio station reporters along the way. Some spoke up at the rally capping off the day. But the real story was the amazing level of grit and determination. There was a strong consciousness of this day being about larger issues motivating them as much if not more than their own personal dilemmas. 

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Thumbnail image for California water restrictions must include Nestlé, Big Ag and Big Oil!

California water restrictions must include Nestlé, Big Ag and Big Oil!

by At Large 04.16.2015 Activism

by Dan Bacher

The mainstream media, state officials and corporate “environmental” groups have for years tried to portray California as the “green” leader of the nation. In reality, California suffers from some of the greatest environmental degradation of any state in the nation, since corporate agribusiness, the oil industry and other big money interests control the majority of the state’s politicians and exert inordinate influence over the state’s environmental policies.

California is currently in a state of emergency, with NASA scientists saying that California has only about one year of water left in reserves, according to Food and Water Watch. This is largely due to the gross mismanagement of California’s reservoirs, rivers and groundwater supplies, during a record drought, to serve the 1 percent.

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Thumbnail image for Legal Complaint Filed against Civic San Diego in San Diego Superior Court

Legal Complaint Filed against Civic San Diego in San Diego Superior Court

by At Large 04.15.2015 Business

Plaintiffs seek community benefits and oversight of public funds

Editor Note: SDFP readers have requested more information about the legal complaint filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. We are providing their news release and a link to the complete filing below without analysis at this time.

The Petitioners are requesting legal declarations from the Superior Court which clarify the duties and responsibilities between the City of San Diego and CivicSD in regard to economic and community development. The legal complaint also seeks by its lawsuit to create public transparency over public-private development, safeguard taxpayers with oversight of public resources, and establish a baseline of community benefits for development derived from public resources.

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Thumbnail image for SDFP Is Going All in for $15 Today!

SDFP Is Going All in for $15 Today!

by Staff 04.15.2015 Activism

By Staff

SDFP editor Doug Porter will be spending the day at the locations listed below. He’ll be tweeting throughout the day, so check our twitter feed. Doug’s column The Starting Line will return tomorrow with lots of news and analysis of today’s events.

Here’s the list of times and locations for protests on Wednesday:

7 am – Fast Food Worker Strike: 2345 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA
8:30 am – Fast Food Worker Strike: 2829 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA
11 am – Security Officer Event:750 B Street San Diego, CA
Noon – State Workers Event: 1350 Front St, San Diego, CA
1:30pm – City Heights Rising Event: 3795 Fairmount Ave, San Diego, CA
3:30 pm – Home Care Worker Rally: San Diego State University 5500 Campanile Drive San Diego, CA (Between the music building and open air theatre)
4:30 pm– The Big Event: San Diego State University Scripps Cottage Lawn near Hepner Hall 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA

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Thumbnail image for On Equal Pay Day (and Every Other Day) Trickle-Down Continues to Fail

On Equal Pay Day (and Every Other Day) Trickle-Down Continues to Fail

by Doug Porter 04.14.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The second Tuesday in April marks the observance of Equal Pay Day. This calendar date hypothetically represents the length of time past New Years’ Day many women must work at the same job in order to match what men make in a year.

The day is a symbolic means of illustrating the differences in pay existing throughout the economy based on gender, despite legislative actions aimed a rectifying the problem dating back to 1869.  The National Committee on Pay Equity offers up a variety of programs for addressing inequities tied to gender.

This pay gap is one important part of a much larger picture of discrimination and inequality rampant in the Millennial Gilded Age.

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Thumbnail image for Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

by John Lawrence 04.14.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

In 2009 then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 1388 which eliminated prudent controls over how much debt school districts could enter into. Wall Street bankers then swarmed all over the state promoting Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs), the equivalent of payday loans for school districts.

One fantastic advantage of these loans was the “buy now, pay later” aspect. School districts could get their money now and not have to raise taxes on current residents. Easy money. There would not have to be any payments made for 20 years. Current residents would be off the hook. But their children and grandchildren would enter an era of crushing debt when the bill became due.

And Wall Street is patient, very patient.

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Thumbnail image for Let’s Make History: Going All In for $15 on April 15th

Let’s Make History: Going All In for $15 on April 15th

by Doug Porter 04.13.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

What started out as protests against wages paid to workers in fast food restaurants in a few big cities has become a nationwide movement, encompassing retail, home care, security, child care, and airport workers, along with adjunct college professors.

On Wednesday, April 15th, while much of the traditional news media is camped outside post offices trying to interview the vanishing breed of Luddites using snail mail to file their taxes, these modern-day fighters for fair wages will be protesting in over 200 cities nationwide.

As was true with the civil rights movement of the 20th century, an increasing number of persons of conscience are joining in with those brave enough to challenge an injustice.If you’re aware of the ever-increasing level of economic inequality and sick of the system that primarily rewards those at top, this is an opportunity to spend a few hours doing something more than tsk-tsking at articles posted in social media.

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Thumbnail image for Teachers and Students Fight for 15

Teachers and Students Fight for 15

by Jim Miller 04.13.2015 Activism

By Jim Miller

Last February, in the lead up to the National Adjunct Day of Action, I noted in this column that, “most colleges in America run on the backs of adjunct instructors who don’t receive the same pay for the same work as do the shrinking pool of full-time faculty” and that the “Exploitation of contingent labor is not just a problem for employees at Starbucks, Walmart, and fast food chains where workers are fighting for $15 an hour; it is an epidemic in the academy as well.”

During that day of protest, Fight for 15 organizers stood with us and this week, on 4/15 at 4 PM at Scripps Cottage on San Diego State University’s campus, we will stand with them as teachers and students from across the city will come together with workers, community activists, people of faith, and others to call for basic fairness and economic justice for all working people.

In doing so we will be joining a movement that has taken root across the county.

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Thumbnail image for Fast Tracking the Trans Pacific Partnership: An Offer Congress Ought to Refuse

Fast Tracking the Trans Pacific Partnership: An Offer Congress Ought to Refuse

by Doug Porter 04.09.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

Over the next few weeks there will be a barrage of opinion on a complicated subject: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal in the making between pacific rim nations effectively setting the ground rules for most international trade in the 21st century.

Please, don’t let your eyes glaze over. This is important. Congress is about to be asked to grant the executive branch the authority to present the final version of this agreement on a take it or leave it basis. I believe this deal rewards corporate greed and ignores its role in creating inequality.

Today I’ll try my best to present a primer on the battle already underway. There will be international, national and local events concerning the TPP in the coming days. Your personal economic future is what’s at stake.

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Thumbnail image for Can One Union Save the Post Office?

Can One Union Save the Post Office?

by Source 04.06.2015 Activism

By David Morris / Common Dreams

Let’s begin with the bad news. The U.S. Post Office, the oldest, most respected and ubiquitous of all public institutions is fast disappearing.

In recent years management has shuttered half the nation’s mail processing plants and put 10 percent of all local post offices up for sale.  A third of all post offices, most of them in rural areas, have had their hours slashed.

Hundreds of full time, highly experienced postmasters knowledgeable about the people and the communities they serve have been dumped unceremoniously, often replaced by part timers. Ever larger portions of traditional post office operations— trucking, mail processing and mail handling– have been privatized. Close to 200,000 middle class jobs have disappeared.

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Thumbnail image for Will Mickey D’s Dollar Deal Super-Size April 15 Protests?

Will Mickey D’s Dollar Deal Super-Size April 15 Protests?

by Doug Porter 04.03.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The national ‘conversation’ about inequality shifted a bit this week with a press release from fast food giant McDonald’s announcing it was planning a pay raise for employees of its company-owned stores.

The significance of the announcement isn’t the extra dollar on top of whatever is the local minimum wage for the less than 10% of the company’s workers. WalMart, Target, and a growing number of other large retailers operations have made similar announcements in recent months.

These pay increases are too little, too late. A study released by Americans for Tax Fairness earlier this week says increases to $9 (in 2015) and even $10 (in 2016) will still leave  workers dependent on food stamps, Medicaid and six other taxpayer-funded programs to survive. And McDonald’s announcement has simply added fuel to the fire in the bellies of low wage workers planning on staging protests nation-wide on April 15th.

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